Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

The Able-Bodied Slave

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (1), 93–110.

Abstract

The article takes up the “abled-bodied slave” as a concept for engaging with the emergence and epistemological significance of “disabled slaves” in disability studies. Black feminist contributions to poststructural frameworks point to the ways the racial-sexual terror of captivity have shaped the troubled making of difference, and of the means by which the latter is theorized. Putting into motion these interventions—namely, those by Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, and Barbara Christian—within the growing literature on blackness in disability studies, the article charts the epistemic landscape from which disability and able-bodiedness are read into slavery archives and other texts, positing that what disability and access means for the slave may undo accepted ways of seeing disability and reach for a disability theory internal to black thought.

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Visperas, Cristina